Once you’re pronounced dead, barring some gross medical miscalculation, you’re not going to have any idea what happens to your body. That special sauce known as consciousness has already been sucked out of your meat suit and taken to heaven or hell or the Sea of Reeds, whatever you choose to believe. From a purely practical standpoint, it shouldn’t really matter what happens to your body after that, now that it’s just an empty, wet, soon-stinky vessel.
Of course, in reality, we’re all a little more emotional than that. People get attached to their cars, so of course they’re going to be attached to the vehicle that carted their brain around for their entire life. There’s a little too much humanity involved to just toss everybody into an industrial shredder attached to a pig pen and call it a funeral. Not to mention the friends and family that survive you would prefer there to be some semblance of grace imparted to the newly dead you.
Unfortunately, whether through greed, science or something else, sometimes your body doesn’t exactly find the same peace your mind might have. Here are five horrible things that can happen to your body after you die…
You Can Turn Into Soap
You’d never think the danger of a long-dead corpse would be that it was too clean. It’s hard to imagine someone cracking open a coffin, covering their face with their sleeve, and uttering, “Ugh, it smells like fresh summer linens and sunshine.” Yet, in one very particular, and disgusting way, this can happen, through a process known as saponification. If alkaline soil makes its way into your coffin, or if you were unlucky enough not to get boxed up at all, it can interact with the fat on your body to turn into soap.
Before you hit the comments section, people with an unhealthy interest in human decay or soap or both (though I doubt there’s much overlap there), I understand that the soap in question is disgusting. I understand that it likely doesn’t have a pleasant lavender scent, probably makes you retch and is definitely not being chopped and dropped into a Bath & Body Works. To be honest, I’m not sure which I’d prefer: Human soap being absolutely disgusting, or it being the best fucking soap you’ve ever used.
You Can Explode
The yin to the soap body’s yang is your body’s possibility to become, instead, an absolute mess. It turns out that there’s a reason people get buried underground, and it’s not just so some guy at the cemetery can get his pump on. This can make some above-ground mausoleums a much more dangerous form of burial than you might expect. That exposure to air and moisture makes you decompose at a highly unpleasant rate, and produces a whole lot of gasses.
Some people have tried to solve this with airtight caskets, which both doesn’t work and ends up being the world’s most expensive stink bomb. You paid for an eternity of peaceful rest among slabs of cool marble, and all of a sudden, your bones are blown all over the floor like there was an earthquake at a voodoo supply store. If you must be buried above ground, do it the cool way: with vultures.
You Can Get Robbed
It might not be as popular of a way to make a living today, especially now that way fewer people are being buried in ceremonial jewelry or with a mouth full of gold, but grave robbing has forever been a macabre way to make a buck. These days, apparently the easier money is just grabbing a headstone and reselling it as garden decor. Definitely less digging involved, and less chance of being grabbed by a vengeful skeleton. I tell you, these modern grave robbers don’t know how good they have it.
Back in the day, there was a real and unpleasant chance that your recent remains wouldn’t remain undisturbed for long. Sometimes, it was to steal valuable items buried with the body, or if you were unlucky enough to have high-value dental work, to yank your gold teeth straight from your decomposing jaw. Sometimes it wasn’t the contents, but the whole body itself, which could be held for ransom, like in the case of more than one famous figure from history. You thought you were in for eternal rest and now you’re stashed in a hideout until your family ponies up a burial fund part deux.
You Can Be Harvested for Parts
Sometimes body parts don’t need to be coated in precious metals to be valuable. There can be real value in bits and bobs that are no longer needed by their primary owner. Of course, once someone’s been embalmed or buried, the pieces might not be good anymore, but if you manage to get to them before that? If you’re willing to engage in business with the world’s creepiest customers and learn how to use Tor to access the darkweb, there’s money to be made.
Maybe the most high-profile case of this was a manager at a Harvard morgue who was found to have been running a human remains marketplace. Instead of disposing of donated remains after study in any of the accepted, respectful ways, Cedric Lodge was accused of selling them online. Most disturbing? He used PayPal. C’mon man, the least you could do is give them a little more respect than an old Magic dual land or a foil Charizard.
Not going to go into depth here, but yeah. Not ideal.